By Kieran Rooney
Fionnuala Brittion’s fantastic season continued when she took a bronze medal in the women’s 3,000 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg on Sunday.
It was one of two bronze medals for the Irish side, Ciaran O Lionaird having finished third in the men’s 3,000 metres on Saturday. There were also some hard luck stories with Derval O’Rourke only just missing out on a medal in the women’s 60 metres hurdles and Brian Gregan tripping in the men’s 400 metres semi-finals.
Most of attention, it’s fair to say, was centred on Britton. While she is a brilliant cross-country runners, having won two European titles, there were doubts about her ability to deliver on the track.
But she showed huge reslience to grab third place in the tighest of finishes behind Portugal’s Sara Moreira and Corinna Harrer from Germany. The battle for the silver and bronze was down to a blanker finish with Britton just finishing .04 of a second behind Harrer and .05 of a second in front of Russia’s Yelena Korobkina.
She showed tremendous fighting qualities to dip in order to get the medal. As much as she has enjoyed her success at cross-country, she has real ambitions to make an impression on the track.
“I know the track is where it’s really at, I’m not stupid. The outdoor track and the Olympics is really where everyone wants to be.” Britton admitted.
O Lionaird from Cork, meanwhile, would also seem to have a lot to look forward to after gaining his bronze in the men’s 3,000 metres. He ran a time, a full three seconds quicker than his previous best.
His jubiliation contrasted sharply with his his response at the Olmpic Stadium where he appeared totally fed up with the sport. “I think everyone is changed by their experiences.” he admitted.
“I needed to take that hit at the Olympics, let that happen at some stage of my career. I’m a lot happier now.”
Brian Gregan, sadly, was far from happy after his elimination in the 400 metres semi-finals. He was tripped from behind by the Ukrainian runner Volodymyr Burakov.
“He didn’t trip me, he stood on me.” insisted Gregan. “It wasn’t my fault.” There was an appeal from the Irish management which proved unsuccesful.
Derval O’Rourke, for her part, had to wait several minutes before finding out that she had lost out on a bronze medal in the women’s 60 metres hurdles. It was deeply frustrating as the Irish runner had finished just 0.01 seconds behind the winner in a blanker finish.
It’s 12 years since Kerry were relegated from division one of the National Football League, but the Kingdom are in danger of making the drop to division two again this year. After heavy defeats to Mayo, when they failed to score in the second half and to Dublin, when their total over 70 minutes was just four points, the men in green and gold are not looking good this year.
On Sunday, they travel to Newbridge to play Kildare, who have already beaten the reigning All-Ireland champions Donegal and the reigning League champions Cork. So worrying times for Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Kerry’s youngest ever manager and for Kerry supporters everywhere. Experienced Kerry supporters reckon that come the summer they will have a team able to challenge old Munster rivals Cork, but other pundits say that it’s obvious new talent is not coming through. It’s now 19 years since Kerry won an All-Ireland minor title and while Kerry has won four under 21 titles in that period, their last success was in 2008. So could the production line be drying up in the Kingdom?
Fitzmaurice has been missing big names like Colm Cooper, Eoin Brosnan and Paul Galvin, who have all been involved with their clubs. Also missing from the starting line ups against Mayo and Dublin were Declan O’Sullivan, Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy. Fitzmaurice knows that it’s going to be a scramble for points in what is a very competitive division, but is not giving up hope yet. He said: ‘‘At the moment three counties have zero points and we play the other two at home at the end of March.’’ With Dr. Crokes out of the club championship some of Kerry’s big names should be back for the trip to Newbridge on Sunday where they will be facing a Kildare team unbeaten in 2013. The Lilywhites have already won the O’Byrne Cup; they will be without Gary White is undertaking overseas service with the Defence Forces, but Dermot Earley is close to a return after a long lay off through injury.
Elsewhere this weekend, Mayo will head to Croke Park on Saturday night to see if they can beat the Dubs once again. When last they met at GAA headquarters last September, Mayo surprised Dublin in the All-Ireland semifinal. The Dubs also have full points, having beaten Cork and Kerry, so it should be an interesting contest. Tyrone are another county with maximum points from two games and on Sunday Mickey Harte’s team take on All-Ireland champions Donegal in Omagh. The final division one game is in Newry where Down and Cork will both be looking for their first points of the League campaign.
By Kieran Rooney
WHO says that the bookies don’t get it wrong? Crossmaglen and Dr Crokes both went into their All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship semi-finals against St Brigid’s and Ballymun Kickhams as favorites but both are now out of the competition.
Roscommon’s St Brigid’s produced the result of the day to secure a shock 2-7 to 1-9 victory over the holders Crossmaglen in Mullingar. At Semple Stadium in Thurles, meanwhile, Dublin champions Ballymun Kickhams also upset the odds to defeat Kerry representatives Dr. Crokes by 1-10 to 0-9.
While both of the semi-final winners deserve a lot of credit, pride of place must surely go to St Bridid’s. Crossmaglen, after all, have set an incredibly high standard in this competition.
After strolling through the Ulster Championship, they were confidently expected to make their way through to another final. But St Brigid’s, managed by former Mayo star Kevin McStay, just never allowed them to find their rhythm.
“It’s so hard to go against a team as good as Crossmaglen. They’ve set the standard in so many ways, physically, mentally and then ability,” stressed McStay.
“We made our share of mistakes but we stayed at it.” It was just as well that they did for Crossmaglen were in front by a point with five minutes of the semi-final remaining.
Not everything had gone St Brigid’s way. The normally proficient Frankie Dolan wasn’t at his best for much of the game, despite scoring his side’s first goal.
But Dolan is too seasoned a campaigner to let that get to him. So, exactly when St Brigid’s needed him to deliver, he fielded a free from Senan Kilbride to set off for goal.
Just as he went to shoot he was fouled for what would surely have been a penalty. But, before referee Maurice Deegan could blow the whistle, St Brigid’s substitute Conor McHugh kicked the ball into the net.
It was to prove to be the match-winning goal. Crossmaglen, understandably, were devastated as they had had just appeared to turn the game around with three quick points from David McKenna, Jamie Clarke and Aaron McKenna.
Crossmaglen’s problem was that they could never establish more than a two point gap. They recovered well from Dolan’s early goal for St Brigid’s to lead 1-5 to 1-3 at the break. Crossmaglen’s goal was a fine effort from their corner-back Paul Hughes.
But they wasted some other chances to establish a decent lead and St Brigid’s came right back into it in the second half before’s McHugh’s late strike proved decisive. To add to Crossmaglen’s disappointment, they had Kyle Carragher sent off in the closing stages.
Quite clearly, St Brigid’s will need to show the same resolve if they are to get the better of Ballymun Kickhams in the St Patrick’s Day final at Croke Park. Ballymun Kickhams were good value for their four point success over Dr Crokes.
The key moment came just before the interval when the Dublin champions’ goalkeeper Sean Currie saved a penalty from Chris Brady. Another important element was the capacity of the well organized Ballymun defence to deal with the potent Dr Crokes attack.
Colm Cooper, for example, only managed two points. Dr Crokes manager Noel O’Leary had no complaints, stating: “We just didn’t play well. Bad passing, bad ideas. Fair play to Ballymun, they were the better side on the day.”
Dublin’s Philly McMahon, operating in midfield, had a big say So did the emerging Sean George who did a great job in marking Cooper.
By Sean Creedon
Olympic champion Katie Taylor will make her long-awaited return to the ring at the National Stadium in Dublin on Friday, Feb. 22, two days before her sell-out bout at the Bord Gáis Theatre. The Bray boxer is scheduled to meet Poland’s Karolia Graczyk over four rounds at the Stadium on the final night of the Irish championships. No opponent had been entered for Taylor in the 60kg division, so this exhibition bout was arranged.
And then she will meet German fighter Maike Kleuners at Bord Gáis Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24. Her second fight at the Dublin docklands venue will be against Yuli Tsiplakova, a Ukrainian, on Friday, March 22. But before the latter bout, Taylor will box in two official international matches between Ireland and Russia March 17 and 18. That means the Bray boxer will have three fights in just six days between St Patrick’s Day and March 22. But that shouldn’t present any problems as the 26-year-old fought her three Olympic fights over just four days of competition in London last summer.
Meanwhile the European women’s championships which were penciled in for Ireland in 2013 will not now be staged this year. The world body only recently informed the Irish boxing authorities that they would prefer if the European women’s championships be held in the same year as the World championships which will be staged in Canada next year. Naturally Pete Taylor, Katie’s coach and father, is not happy.
He said: ‘‘It has been a wasted five months of our lives, my daughter’s life. Katie could have taken all those months off after the Olympics and refreshed her body and then come back into a program for Rio. She could have gone off and relaxed or played football.’’
By Frank Brady
Christy Creamer passed away on Jan. 17 at the age of 92. He was waked at Hodder’s Funeral Home on McLean Avenue, and was buried from St. Barnabas Church, Woodlawn on Jan. 22. Christy was born in Curraghnawall, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim and he went on to become a legend in Leitrim football. He began his football career with Kiltyhugh in 1936, and a few years later Kiltyhugh had become Aughawillan with Christy being their most prominent player. In 1941 he played for Leitrim in the Connacht championship and the National League and was noted as the first Aughawillan player to wear the Leitrim jersey.
Christy then went to work in Fermanagh where he became one of Art Mac Murrough’s top players in Belnaleck club. Paul Corrigan, in a history of the club, wrote as follows “Christy Creamer was one of the most illustrious of these new players to join the Belnaleck Club. He was a gifted forward who played for the Fermanagh team for years, including the Ulster final of 1945….Eventually to the great disappointment of Belnaleck fans and the entire area who had cheered him to so many peaks of football skills and endeavor, Christy sailed for America.”
In 1947 Christy arrived in New York and the reformed Leitrim team got a major boost. Christy was selected on the New York team to play a combination of the Cavan and Kerry teams who had played in the Polo Grounds. Though the New York team was well beaten by the combined finalists, Christy was the top scorer for the Big Apple players. In 1948 Christy was captain of the Leitrim team that toured Ireland, where they played games against Leitrim, Fermanagh, Armagh plus a number other selected teams.
Back in New York, Christy captained Leitrim team in the ’48 and ’49 finals but, they lost to a very powerful Kerry squad. In 1956 Christy retired from football, and over the next 40 years he fulfilled a variety of roles with distinction: president, manager, delegate and trainer. Christy was Leitrim’s first Guest of Honor in 1969 and he was also the first recipient of the Joe McInerney Memorial Award in 1999. He also had the distinction of being inducted into the Fermanagh Football Hall of Fame.
Christy was always regarded to be a very sound judge of footballers. So a few years back Frankie Dwyer brought him up to Paddy’s Field to inspect a supposedly prized acquisition to the training squad. He was not overly impressed and he quipped that the highly touted recruit was “just the remains of a good player.”
His judgment or interest in Leitrim football diminished little over the years, and though slowed through age, Christy was on hand to witness the beginning of Leitrim’s recent wave of success. To date, the late Christy had the longest association with the Leitrim Club in New York.
Christy is survived by his wife Patricia, a native of Fenagh, sons Thomas, Chris, James and daughter Maria, plus nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam uasal.
By Kieran Rooney
LEINSTER prepared for their two crunch Heineken Cup matches against top French outfit Clermont Auvergne with a comprehensive 37-7 RaboDirect Pro12 victory over Zebre at the RDS.
In reality, Clermont and Zebre could not be more different. Zebre prop up the RaboDirect table having lost all of their ten games.
Still, last Saturday’s outing at the RDS did at least give Leinster the opportunity to try a few things. Importantly, international flanker Sean O’Brien came through a second game unscathed after missing most of the season.
O’Brien was withdrawn along with Jonathan Sexton at half-time, presumably with Sunday’s first clash against Clermont in mind. By then, Leinster had matters well under control, Sexton having contributed a try, two conversions and a penalty to enable them to lead 17-0.
Leinster scored five tries in all, the others coming from Fergus McFadden (2), Andrew Conway and Cian Healy. Afterwards, Sexton stressed that Leinster’s whole season depended on their two results against Clermont.
“A losing bonus point may not be good enough for us, so we’ll probably need to win in France.” stated the Irish out-half.
Elsewhere, Munster prepared for their back to back matches with top English side
Saracens by beating Glasgow Warriors 31-3 at Thomond Park. South African flanker CJ Stander made a good case for a starting place by scoring two tries.
Munster also had a try from another member of the back-row Tommy O’Donnell and there was a penalty try. Ronan O’Gara landed all four conversions and added a penalty.
Ulster still top the table after a 19-12 away victory over the Scarlets. Wing Andrew Trimble scored the decisive try from an intercept.
The win means that Ulster have won all of their 10 outings to lead the table by nine points. The Scarlets are still in second position, ahead of Leinster and Munster in third and fourth respectively.
Unfortunately, Connacht were out of luck again, losing 24-23 at home to Edinburgh. Coach Eric Elwod is now hoping the tide will turn for Friday night’s attractive Heineken
Cup match against Biarritz at the Sportsground.
Elwood is keeping his fingers crossed that some of his more influential forwards will be able to resume, including the Irish second-row Mike McCarthy.
The Irish community was shocked and saddened at the sudden death of Jimmy McGonagle on November 26th. The late Jimmy was a pillar in the Donegal GFC and the Donegal Association, as well as being a staunch supporter of the New York GAA for close to half a century. He was 72.
In many ways the cherished uncle was a father figure to nephews Frank, Connie, Lanty and Columba of the Molloy family in New York. He was especially proud of the achievements of his grand nieces and nephews especially that CJ was following in the footballing footsteps of the family.
Jimmy was the youngest of a family of six born in Glencolumcille, Co. Donegal. After finishing school Jimmy worked with Gaeltarra Eireann as a weaver of the famous Donegal tweed. However, in 1964, like many of his peers, Jimmy emigrated, and he arrived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
After initially working for the Kodak Company, Jimmy opened up Buckley’s bar in Brooklyn with his good friend the late Phil Boyle before moving on to a position with the New York Times as a paper handler. In the late eighties, the staunch Donegal man was back in the bar business again when he opened the famed Sam Maguire’s bar in Riverdale. This oasis of Irish culture became the favorite destination for Irish music groups such as the Whole Shabang, when out on tour from Ireland.
In recent years Jimmy worked as a bartender at Jay’s place on Mosholu Avenue, in Riverdale. However, one of his greatest joys and proudest moments was when his nephew and captain Anthony Molloy brought the real Sam Maguire to the bar after Donegal won their first All-Ireland in 1992.
With Sam happily ensconced in Sam Maguire’s, Jimmy is reputed to have thrown the mother of all parties.
Naturally, Jimmy was in Croke Park just a few weeks ago when Donegal lifted Sam for the second time and celebrated the long awaited homecoming to the rugged hills of Donegal. The good times continued for Donegal exiles as manager Jimmy McGuinness and the Donegal All-Star
contingent brought Sam to McLean Avenue, Yonkers, just over two weeks ago.
Naturally, Jimmy, the patriarch of Donegal football in the Big Apple, was in the van-guard of the welcoming party. There was no prouder man in his best suit, pressed shirt, matching tie, and polished shoes as he went to pose with and embrace Sam in the Heritage bar.
Sam was royalty of the highest order in Jimmy’s books and the two decades wait made the meeting all the sweeter.
Jimmy was in every way the corner stone of the Donegal football club in New York and he had been active in every facet of the club. He served two terms as chairman, from 1989 to 1990 and again from 2004 to 2005. Jimmy was a constant member of the club’s executive committee and he was, at the time of his passing, the club’s delegate to the New York Board.
His contributions to the club were recognized in 1988 when he was guest of honor at a function that drew more than 1,000 people. He was a constant presence in Gaelic Park and acted quite frequently as a willing and reliable umpire.
Jimmy preferred the Manhattan College goals as he could have a quiet puff when half-time came. Jimmy was also a frequent visitor to the press box where he relished exchanging verbal volleys with some of his well-established pseudo adversaries. In the banter stakes, Jimmy could give as good as he got, and sometimes better. However, the exchanges were always entertaining and without malice, though a little stinger would occasionally help make the exchanges more focused.
Such humorous banter often helped to brighten up a dull game.
Jimmy also enjoyed good cuisine and we often crossed paths in Eileen’s Country Kitchen on McLean Avenue on the weekends. Early in the year, Jimmy was also honored by the Donegal Association for his unwavering loyalty and for his roles in fundraising and in their myriad social events.
Jimmy was waked at the Riverdale-on-the-Hudson Funeral Home on Thursday and Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Fr. Terence Lee in St. Margaret’s of Corona in Riverdale on Friday. The throngs of mourners at both events, besides the fitting homily of Fr. Lee and the authentic synopsis of Jimmy’s life in Fiona’s eulogy, Jimmy’s niece, spoke volumes about the esteem in which one of Donegal’s most favorite exiles was held in.
The sprinkling of Donegal jerseys and sashes at the Mass left no doubt where the late Jimmy McGonagle’s heart lay.
Though Sam’s return to Donegal was the cause of great joy earlier, sadly Jimmy’s subsequent return to Donegal was the cause of great sorrow to his family and legions of friends as he was laid to rest in his native Glencolumkille on Sunday.
The passing of the jovial Jimmy leaves a huge void in the Donegal GFC and in the Donegal Association, and he had his favorite spot at the GAA meetings. Perhaps the Gaelic seanfhocal succinctly sums up his passing, ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís, simply there won’t be another.
Way back in the nineties, the then Meath footballer Graham Geraghty spent a week on trial at Arsenal. Bill Darby, the London club’s representative in Ireland, had invited him over after watching his performance in a Leinster final, feeling there was a raw, athletic talent that might, with proper coaching, be turned into something special. Over the course of his time at Colney, following performances in a couple of trial games, it emerged his first touch was a little too deficient to be corrected and he wasn’t offered a contract. A footnote in one of the more interesting GAA careers, there was something else came out of it too.
The people at Arsenal were stunned at his levels of physical fitness. Staff and players alike were flabbergasted at the condition this man was in.
Irish international Eddie McGoldrick (a name to remind Gooners that there were darker days in their past than the present era) had to testify on Geraghty’s behalf that he really was an amateur sportsman. That, of course, made his fitness and strength all the more remarkable for the professional soccer players to behold.
How could somebody with a day job be in this sort of shape? How could somebody with a day job be so much fitter than them?
The answer is that the GAA has always been incredibly progressive in its approach to fitness and to new ideas in general. Is there any other sport that has tinkered with on the field rules and with the format of its major championships as much in recent years? Far beyond the stereotype of the rural troglodyte stuck in his ways, here is an association liberally speckled with people desperate to innovate and to improve in any way they can. This is why the recent decision by Glasgow Celtic to hire Jim McGuinness to oversee their academy shouldn’t be a surprise and should be welcomed.
While those who know their Gaelic football in Scotland (and that would be a surprising number of people) may fear that the Celtic youth teams will now start adopting weird defensive formations like 7-2-1, and begin harassing opponents into submission, the truth is McGuinness will be merely bringing sports science to bear on their development. What does it say about the situation in Scotland though that the club has to look across the sea to an amateur sport to find somebody with the knowledge and experience to bring that extra dimension?
The smart people in the GAA would applaud the decision because they have always been open to going outside their own community in the quest to improve. Forty-two years ago, Billy Morgan was one of a number of Irish students to arrive at Strawberry Hill in London to study physical education. Morgan came home with a degree and a whole slew of new ideas about how to revolutionise the traditional approach to training Gaelic football teams. Cork and Nemo Rangers benefitted accordingly.
In Michael Foley’s classic book “Kings of September”, there’s a fascinating story told of Eugene McGee, freshly-appointed manager of the Offaly footballers, driving his Fiat Mirafiori and Richie Connor over to London to watch Arsenal training for a few days just before Christmas, 1976. The club’s daily routine was nothing like the stuff an inter-county boss would have to pack in to two sessions a week but still, the appetite for knowledge and the openness of mind was impressive.
Closer to home, I remember Moss Finn knocking around St. Finnbarr’s GAA club, the Irish rugby international being there to work on the physical fitness of the senior teams before the championship. At a time when a lot of hurlers and footballers were not yet the lean, mean fighting machines of today, Finn passed on the benefit of the more advanced work being done at the top level of his own sport.
That would have been around the time Jimmy Barry-Murphy was the biggest star in a galaxy full of them who wore Cumann Barra Naofa on their chests.
Little wonder then that all these years later, one of Barry-Murphy’s first moves when he took over the Cork hurlers for the second time was to go outside the GAA for inspiration. He tapped the former international 800m runner David Matthews to join his backroom team after reading the athlete holding forth about how he felt training for that distance would be perfect for hurlers and Gaelic footballers. Matthews’ insight on the clash of two very different sporting cultures was interesting.
“Well, I’d say some of the harder sessions I did were looked upon by the players as very hard,” said Matthews. “And some of the easier sessions would have been looked upon as very easy. I think that’s one of the big misconceptions in the GAA, that teams don’t train hard enough on the hard days, and train too hard on the easy days. What also surprised me was the mindset of players, and their ability to hurt. As an individual athlete you learn to hurt, go through that pain barrier, at a very young age, and how to deal with it, to push your body to great extremes. In the 800 metres the pain barrier always comes before the finish line, and you have to be able to run through it. I always made the analogy, that those last 80 metres, it’s like someone hands you a fridge freezer, and told you to carry that across the line too.”
When it comes to switching codes, all involved in the GAA should hope McGuinness succeeds in Scotland because it will reflect back positively on the association.
His recent track record suggests he’ll shake up the academy at Celtic and perhaps beyond that too. Of course, the only worry is that the last time a high-profile sportsman from a different code got involved in a soccer club, it was Clive Woodward at Southampton.
That experiment lasted just a year, a year that was hallmarked by acrimony. Whatever happens, surely the Donegal man will do better than that.
The Irish rugby team need to win a test game soon. Winning is good for morale and after losing five internationals in-a-row we need to beat Argentina at the Aviva on Saturday or we could find ourselves in pool three when the World Cup draw is made early next month. At present Ireland is ranked eighth in the world rankings, one place behind Argentina. Staying in the top eight guarantees that only one team ahead of Ireland will be in their World Cup group.
A drop of one place to ninth would change that status. We haven’t won a game since the 32-14 win over Scotland in Dublin last March, but to be fair three of the last five defeats came on the tour of New Zealand last June. Coach Declan Kidney has been unlucky with injuries this year, Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Rory Best, Luke Fitzgerald, Seán O’Brien and Gavin Duffy were all ruled out of the November series weeks ago and now Paul O’Connell and Stephen Ferris are also out of the reckoning for Saturday’s game against Argentina. That’s half the team unavailable, which is a big problem for a country like Ireland where rugby is not the number one sport.
Two weeks ago Ireland started well against South Africa and thanks to the boot of Jonathan Sexton they led 12-3 at half-time, but Ireland failed to register a score in the second half and were beaten 16-12. On the same day Argentina beat Wales 26-12 in Cardiff to move up into seventh place in the world rankings. The Pumas, who love to throw the ball around, will be difficult to break down. Coach Kidney realizes we are going through our worst run of results in 14 years.
He said: ‘‘Saturday’s game against Argentina will be a World Cup qualifier in lots of ways. We must get the blend of youth and experience right. The lads definitely haven’t forgotten how to win, they are still confident in what they are trying to do; it’s just a frustration. It’s a learning process, but I know they are going to click.’’
DR Crokes, and Colm Cooper in particular, seem to be leaving no stone unturned in their bid to capture the All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship.
On a weekend which saw Garrycastle, the reigning Leinster champions, lose out 0-12 to 1-8 to Mullingar Shamrocks in the Westmeath final replay, Dr Crokes were ruthless when defeating Dingle in the Kerry decider.
They eased to a 2-13 to 0-8 victory, a performance which suggests that Dr Crokes will be very serious challengers for the All-Ireland title. Cooper produced a Man of the Match display in Austin Stack Park, helping set up both of the Dr Crokes goals and also contributing three points.
The match was effectively over after the Killarney outfit scored two early goals through Chris Brady and Johnny Looney. By half-time, Dr Crokes were 2-6 to 0-5 clear and they coasted through the second period.
Cooper explained that his team had done their homework. He said: “We looked at Dingle and noted that they get away to quick starts and score lots of goals.
“We, by contrast, hadn’t been starting well. So, we put a lot of emphasis on the first 15 minutes and it paid off.”
Crokes were collecting their third Kerry title in a row but the real prize is surely Crossmaglen’s All-Ireland crown. Before then, however, Dr Crokes will have to play very well if they are to take the Munster crown.
Kilmurrry from Clare are not expected to present too many problems in the first round of the Munster Championship this weekend but the formidable Castlehaven team are in the other half of the draw. Castlehaven captured the Cork title with a hard earned 1-7 to 0-9 success over Duhallow at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
It took a goal three minutes from time by substitute Shane Nolan to give Castlehaven the win. Earlier, they had looked in some trouble when wing-back Chris Hayes was sent off for a second yellow card.
Hayes’s dismissal came in the 43rd minute with the sides level at 0-6 apiece. So, Castlehaven had to show a lot of character to get over the line.
St Brigid’s from Roscommon, meanwhile, remain on course for a third successive Connacht title by recording a 2-19 to 0-10 quarter-final success over Leitrim’s Melvin Gaels Frankie Dolan finished with 0-7 in a one-sided encounter.
There was plenty of action on the Leinster club football front with two of main shocks being the defeats of Garrycastle and Rhode from Offaly.
Sean Daly (0-5) was one of many Mullingar Shamrock heroes as they edged Garrycastle by a single point.
Rhode also found themselves in a tight contest against St Patrick’s from Louth in the opening round of the Leinster Championship. St Patrick’s finished two points (1-9 to 1-7) clear.
Two other first round matches saw St Patrick’s from Wicklow edge out Carlow’s Eire Og 3-10 to 2-11, and Killoe Young Emmets (Longford) defeat St Anne’s (Wexford) 2-7 to 2-4.
Elsewhere, Navan O’Mahony’s justified the tag of favorites when capturing the Meath title by defeating Wolfe Tones by 1-11 to 0-7. They set the tone with a goal from Shane Gillespie within the first minute.
On the hurling front, the defending champions Loughgiel from Antrim overwhelmed Down’s Portaferry 2-25 to 0-12 in the Ulster final. To be fair, Portaferry competed reasonably well in the opening half but Loughgiel, with Liam Watson scoring 1-5, ran riot in the second period.
They can now expect Thurles Sarsfields to be one of their main challengers for the All-Ireland crown. The Tipperary outfit got the better of Limerick champions Kilmallock (2-12 to 0-15)) in the quarter-finals of the Munster Championship with Lar Corbett scoring 1-2.
Newmarket-on-Fergus look to be another decent side. They ended a long barren spell to win the Clare title by beating Cratloe 3-10 to 0-9. It was their 23rd Clare senior title in all but their first since 1981